Browser Daily Newsletter 1244

Hic sunt camelopardus: this historical edition of The Browser is presented for archaeological purposes; links and formatting may be broken.

A Star In A Bottle

Raffi Khatchadourian | New Yorker | 24th February 2014

The "most complex machine ever built" is a nuclear reactor "based on an idea that Andrei Sakharov had in the 1950s" which will create "an artificial earthbound sun" by fusing hydrogen atoms into helium, releasing enough heat to "solve the world’s energy problems for the next thirty million years". Cost so far: $20bn. Start-date: 2020. The site in France looks like something "drawn from the imagination of JG Ballard"

The Power Of Ukraine’s Billionaires

Christian Neef | Spiegel | 25th February 2014

Rinat Akhmetov and Dmitry Firtash own big chunks of Ukraine's industry and media. They also own big chunks of its government and parliament. When they turned against President Viktor Yanukovych, he was finished. Now they need replacement protégés. Akhmetov gets on well with Yulia Tymoshenko's people. Firtash backs opposition leader Vitali Klitschko. Has everything changed in Ukraine, so that everything can stay the same?

How Much My Novel Cost Me

Emily Gould | Medium | 25th February 2014

Essay on the writing life, which broadens into an essay on life in general. Lyrical and touching throughout. Young New York writer gets big advance for memoir that tanks; fails to become Lena Dunham; ends up broke and borrowing from boyfriend; sheds illusions; but (happy-ish ending) completes first novel. "I don’t know if I will ever have any of the things I once considered necessary and automatic parts of a complete adult life"

Q & A With Michael Ignatieff

Isaac Chotiner | New Republic | 20th February 2014

Excellent interview in which Ignatieff talks about "the romance of politics", the realities of power, the place of intellectuals, Iraq, Obama, and the lessons learned from his own brief political career. "A lot of the demands are about keeping some core non-tradeable inner self that doesn’t get sold in the process of pursuing power. That turns out to be really difficult, you just get really bent out of shape"

Publishers Withdraw 120 Gibberish Papers

Richard Van Noorden | Nature | 24th February 2014

The Sokal hoax on an industrial scale. Top academic publishers accept scores of nonsense papers written by a computer programme called SCIgen, developed at MIT, which "randomly combines strings of words to produce fake computer-science papers". Fiasco reveals a “spamming war at the heart of science”. Researchers rush to earn publishing credits, overwhelmed publishers let quality controls slide

App-pocalypse Now

Jeff Atwood | Coding Horror | 24th February 2014

"Companies keep asking how can we get people to find and install our amazing app instead of the one question they really should have asked: Why the hell are we building an app in the first place? I'm not excited by the prospect of installing an app on my phone these days. It's more like a vague sense of impending dread. All I can think is: What shitty thing is this 'free' app going to do to me so they can satisfy their investors?"

Video of the day:  The Law You Won't Be Told

Thought for the day:

"The one product that any degree of legal independence lets you produce is impunity" — Alex Harrowell

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